The purpose of this grant was to support the Agriculture Connections program, a joint venture between Rotary First Harvest and Northwest Harvest. Growing Connections aims to increase the amount of produce local food banks have to offer their clients. We do this by employing a -time worker who reaches out to large and mid-scale growers in the region to explain and encourage donation of surplus produce to feed the hungry. Agriculture Connections has exceeded its goals during its three years of operations. Even though farmers don't want to see the crops they worked so hard to plant and grow waste, they often don't always know how to donate them. We are working to help growers see that when there is a glut on the market of a particular fruit or vegetable or a crop is damaged by hail or otherwise "left over," they can call us to arrange for transportation and delivery.
Through this position, Rotary First Harvest and Northwest Harvest have been able to greatly increase the variety, quality and quantity of produce available to offer the food banks and people they serve in the greater Yakima region. For instance, AC found, secured and moved donations of fruits such as raspberries, avocados, and melons and vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce and celery. Food banks and their clients are thrilled to see such rare treats come in. Overall, 1.7 million pounds of produce was donated and moved through the Agriculture Connections program. This absolutely exceeded the original goal of 750,000 pounds for the year!
You can learn more about Rotary First Harvest on their website.